[b-hebrew] FYI: Aramaic study

Paul Zellmer pzellmer at sc.rr.com
Tue Dec 28 22:00:54 EST 2010



Have you tried pronouncing the verse in the two languages?  You’ll find they *sound* very similar, so similar that the Hebrew original would have made basic sense to the Aramaic speaker, even if he had no training in Hebrew.  And finding someone who had never had formal training in Hebrew would be very difficult to find in a culture where every village was supposed to have a synagogue, and every male was supposed to be under the tutelage of a rabbi.  If memory serves me right, the first lesson would have started with the beginning of Leviticus, and it was in Hebrew.  In fact, the only exception to the ban on copying portions from Tanach was given to the rabbis, who were allowed to prepare training materials for their students.


Have you even tried to read the Aramaic portions of the Tanach?  In most seminaries, they do not even require students to study Aramaic in addition to Hebrew, because the two are so similar that the Aramaic portions are basically understandable.  It’s not English-French.  It’s not even Italian-French.  The two are much closer than that.  They are far enough apart to be distinct languages, but they are close enough that the vast majority of the roots are the same.  


Aramaic is not the language of the “enemy,” that (at least formally) would have been Akkadian.  Rather, Aramaic was the lingua franca during the time of the Babylonian captivity.  So it was adopted by the Jews in captivity in order for them to survive.  And, with each generation, the need to communicate with their neighbors had more importance than the preservation of the daily use of their fathers’ tongue.  But that did not mean that their fathers’ tongue died—it simply meant that it was no longer the lingua franca in the streets.


I believe that Jack cleared up that your apparently did not correctly understand what he said took place in synagogues.


Paul Zellmer


From: fred burlingame [mailto:tensorpath at gmail.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 9:58 AM
To: Paul Zellmer
Cc: Hebrew
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] FYI: Aramaic study


Hello Paul;


If you compare numbers 36:1 here, in biblical hebrew; and in aramaic ....; the two languages enjoy the same alphabet and appearance, but very different vocabulary.




The person fluent in aramaic will not capture meaning of the biblical hebrew read to him, unless fluent in the latter different language. Just as an english speaker cannot understand french.


I find it a little difficult to believe that the congregation oppressed by an occupying alien army in 10 a.d., galilee .... would have embraced the language of their enemy for relief; and correspondingly, lost their own language.


And that's my understanding of what Jack wrote. That the synagogue leader read in hebrew first and aramaic second. It's not my conclusion.




fred burlingame

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